Tapping Into What Makes Teachers Tick

Few or no gains come from performance pay incentives for teachers according to a report published last month by a US education think tank. It says that pay alone is insufficient to motivate teachers to teach differently and improve student achievement. Pay incentives ignore what teachers care most about.

The report found that what most teachers desire is the know-how to teach their subjects well and autonomy and supports to best meet the needs of their students. It says that expertise in teaching must be rewarded in ways that move beyond recruitment bonuses or pay for improved student test scores. Continue reading “Tapping Into What Makes Teachers Tick”

High Attrition from Teach for Australia

According to The Age (12 January 2012) nearly half of participants in the fast-track Teach for Australia program are no longer teaching after two years. Only 56% of those who entered the program are still teaching after their initial two-year commitment.

Of the 45 graduates who began the two-year program in 2010, two dropped out in the first year, nine are going into another industry, nine are doing something else in the education field, such as a master’s of teaching, and 25 remain teaching.

This is a very high attrition rate. It far exceeds the attrition rate of new teachers entering the profession through traditional teacher training. Continue reading “High Attrition from Teach for Australia”

Wide-ranging Report on Improving the Schools Workforce

A wide-ranging report on the schools workforce by the Productivity Commission proposes that governments should make more use of higher pay to attract teachers to hard-to-staff subjects and schools but defer introduction of the national performance bonus scheme for teachers. It also says that education disadvantage is a high priority for school workforce reforms and calls for a comprehensive evaluation of programs that target disadvantaged students. Continue reading “Wide-ranging Report on Improving the Schools Workforce”

Teacher Librarians are Fast Disappearing

While Peter Garrett, our federal education minister fiddles and doesn’t respond to the report of last year’s Inquiry into School Libraries and Teacher Librarians and its (inadequate) recommendations, Australian students continue to lose teacher librarians and school libraries. Continue reading “Teacher Librarians are Fast Disappearing”

High Teacher Turnover in Teach for America

Another plank of the education platform of the Gillard Government is in danger of collapsing. The fast-track teacher training program Teach for Australia is under question following new research findings that the majority of teachers in its US counterpart Teach for America leave teaching after 3 years. The attrition rate in Teach for America is much higher than for traditionally trained new teachers. Continue reading “High Teacher Turnover in Teach for America”

Business Writer Defends Teacher Unions

A scathing indictment of the market-based model of education was recently published on the website of the business magazine Forbes. It makes for compulsory reading. It says the neo-liberal market reform agenda in education has failed and that teacher unions are needed to defend and improve public education.

The author accuses market-based reformers as being “simply in the business of union-busting” and “seeking to dismantle a powerful political opponent while ushering for-profit schools in through the side door, and handing out lucrative contract to political allies in the private sector”. He says the neo-liberal approach will result in an even lower-paid teaching force, with fewer benefits and less job security. Continue reading “Business Writer Defends Teacher Unions”

Teacher Bonuses Fail Again

Evidence continues to accumulate that the teacher bonus scheme soon to be introduced in Australian schools is doomed to failure and a waste of taxpayer funds. Another study published this week has shown that paying performance bonuses for teachers does not increase student achievement or change teaching practices.

The latest scheme to fail is the New York City bonus program introduced by Julia Gillard’s own hero and mentor, former schools chancellor Joel Klein who is now in charge of Rupert Murdoch’s push into the education technology market. The Prime Minister has copied yet another failed policy from Klein. Continue reading “Teacher Bonuses Fail Again”

Teacher Turnover Harms Student Achievement

A new study from the United States shows that teacher turnover in schools lowers student achievement, especially for low performing and black students. Students in grades with higher teacher turnover scored lower in both English and mathematics. The study also found that teacher turnover has a disruptive effect on students apart from changing the composition of teacher quality in schools. Continue reading “Teacher Turnover Harms Student Achievement”

Gillard and Garrett Ignore the Evidence Against Teacher Bonuses

Nothing more clearly demonstrates that education policy under the Gillard Government is an evidence-free zone than the announcement last week on new funding to start paying bonuses to the top teachers in Australia.

The Government has proceeded with the scheme even though the large majority of major research studies in recent years, including three new academic studies in recent months, demonstrate that teacher bonuses do not increase student achievement and can actually undermine student learning. Continue reading “Gillard and Garrett Ignore the Evidence Against Teacher Bonuses”

Competition for Test Results is not the Way We Should be Heading

Maralyn Parker is right on the money in her column in the Daily Telegraph this week. She says all that needs to be said about the Julia Gillard’s teacher bonus scheme. Pitting teacher against teacher is not the way to improve student outcomes. It can even reduce results. This is an extract from her column with our emphasis added. Continue reading “Competition for Test Results is not the Way We Should be Heading”